Tuesday, 6 May 2008

"Who's Nest and Pictures of Billy", Sunday 5th May

A momentus day as I heard the first juvenile 'pine' crossbill begging calls of 2008. I didn't see them as they were in a mega 'bushy' granny pine, but the adults flew in to feed them, strangely accompanied by another female. The juvs could even have still been in the nest but I checked all the likely places for a nest and couldn't locate it, so it wasn't there. The birds had therefore probably fledged nearby and just managed to fly to this particular tree. The adults gave EcD Parrot type calls which I recorded just to prove that they actually were what I already knew they were.

On Monday my bestest half had juvenile crossbill calls at a site in mid Deeside. Though she had the Remembird with her she was too busy looking at and for insects to record them apparently. Duh ! Yep, it is possible to tell the juvvy calls apart to species level...................those of you still struggling to tell the adults apart probably didn't need to hear that ! :-)

Speaking of nests what a crazy year. I have found more nests than ever, and without even trying - it's actually getting embarrassing. However, the really bad weather in April has resulted in a high failure rate-well more than 'usual' 50%. This is to be expected in the odd year, though it will be interesting to see if any try again or have second broods this year like they did last year.

Nest Diary "Death In The Pines : A Typical Scenerio"

This nest was found as the female had just started building with literally 3 twigs on 9th March (if you look close you can see her peeking at you):

"Here's looking at you kid, celebrate......"

The following week on the 16th the nest was finished and eggs laid sometime later that week. On the 23rd March the female was sitting tight through driving snow storms. I was a bit worried as the male was feeding her only every 90 -120 minutes which is not great (for her). In wet weather the cones close making foraging times longer. This pair had intermediate bill depths (est. around 12.0mm) and both birds were practically identical in this respect. Both gave the same calls and I got the male singing on two occasions so some good stuff re-assortative mating and song to call correlations.

By the 4th of April the chicks had hatched and the male was singing above the tree, and both male and female flew off to feed. The next day an area of low pressure moved in with wet and windy weather and the chicks persished. Total bummer. All that effort from the dedicated female to no avail.

Today, I found yet another crossbill nest (the 23rd this year), the female sitting and the male coming in regularly to feed her. I recorded a male singing in this very tree two weeks ago but there was no nest then. More will be found no doubt.

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